Buhari has forced a lot of dependents, especially in Southwest APC, to lose their political investments
– Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu
In its special edition published in November of 2015 and titled, The World in 2016, The Economist, in its prediction of what may most likely happen in Nigeria wrote at Page 105: “The new president, Muhammadu Buhari, will use his political capital to address entrenched problems of corruption, insecurity and low living standards, but the patience of an electorate with high expectations will be short. Clashing interests within the ruling party will limit efforts to improve management of the oil sector.” The magazine ended the one paragraph prediction with this comment: “economic growth will be uninspiring”. Events have shown that The Economist was brutally frank in its analysis. Economic growth has remained uninspiring since Buhari took over government in May 2015; and interests have clashed threatening the foundations of the party.
First, it was Bola Tinubu’s wife, Oluremi Tinubu. She is a senator of the Federal Republic. On January 26, 2016, she stood before the Senate to take a swipe at the Buhari’s administration for presenting a budget -which is now famous for paddings- that, in her view, did not hold any promise for women. She said: “When we talk about change that doesn’t mean we are going to just be supporting what is not working”. What is not working here is Buhari’s style of shutting the door on some persons, including, as alleged, Tinubu.
What would also not work, for her, is the fact that the Women Affairs ministry got a paltry N4 billion allocation from the budget of N6 trillion (with paddings). As wife of the APC leader, she was instrumental to mobilizing women in the southwest for the party, and the N4billion, excapital projects and recurrent, leaves nothing to settle political IOUs.
Her argument that “…the women are not just going to be used to campaign and several promises are made to them. This budget is not telling anything and not making any promises”, says it all. It is about specific interest. It is instructive that Sen. Oluremi Tinubu is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Women affairs.
Two months after, another Tinubu fired the second shot. Om March 10, 2016, Tinubu’s first daughter, Mrs. Folasade Tinubu-Ojo, led some 100 women to protest marginalization at the headquarters of APC in Abuja. Mrs. Tinubu-Ojo claimed, at the protest march, that she represents Nigeria’s market women and men. But she is more of the general overseer of markets in Lagos. How her jurisdiction travelled beyond Lagos to include “market women and men in Nigeria” is still a conjecture.
“There have been agitations”, she said, “not even agitation of allegation, the people believed that the government of the day is not carrying them along as it should be and that they worked round the clock for the party during the electioneering campaign, but after the inauguration most of us are not carried along”.
“…our people are not happy because they need to benefit from where they believe they have the right to and all we need, all we are crying for is for the government to give them sense of belonging and carrying them along properly”, Tinubu’s daughter stated.
From Tinubu’s household alone came two protests against the Buhari administration in 45 days. This signals something very dramatic. In the aftermath of the 2015 general election, patriarch of the family was seen as the sole master on the political turf. Most people ascribed APC’s victory at the polls to his mastery of the game of elections. He was also seen as the fulcrum upon which the Buhari administration would ‘change’ Nigeria. And many believed he held the key to every appointment that Buhari would make. In other words, he was seen as holding the knife and the yam. But things changed first inside APC before they started changing in Nigeria. From a tribe of hailing hailers, the Tinubus joined the tribe of wailing wailers and now lament how estranged they have become from power.
Those who understand the game very well, would argue that those cries of protest against the administration could as well be a writing on the wall that Tinubu may soon break loose of APC and return to his most familiar turf -opposition. Even if he declines to pull out, as believed by many, he may not be easily convinced to stay away from opposition as it is clearly evident that opposition has been very rewarding for him. It is much more rewarding that being in control at the center with a man like Buhari watching.
Lai Mohammed, had at a media parley, said he had told his colleagues that the President may be calmly looking out for a scapegoat among his ministers. This means that even those considered as Tinubu’s boys in Buhari’s cabinet, if any, may be hamstrung in doing business with him. This could further mean that avenues for reward and compensation may no longer be available, and open, for him at the federal level.
From his daughter’s “…our people are not happy because they need to benefit from where they believe they have the right to”, and his wife’s “… the women are not just going to be used to campaign and several promises are made to them”, comes the simple understanding that there are a lot of political IOUs which ought to have been retired before now. No doubt, a lot of ‘loyalists’ invested in the 2015 elections on the back of APC and extracted promises of reward and ‘benefits’, which Buhari is not interested in honouring. This is raising the tempo for opposition against the President and protests from the Tinubus may just be an effort to test the waters first.
Buhari has forced a lot of dependents, especially in Southwest APC, to lose their political investments. This is directly responsible for the subtle nudge on the President to reconstitute, without further delay, boards of federal government agencies and parastatals. His delay in doing so, is making some people in APC very uncomfortable and impatient. It is also raising the stakes for some anti- party activities which may include internal revolts, especially given that Tinubu, strictly speaking, has no legal placement in national leadership of the party as President Buhari remains national leader. Tinubu is neither national chairman of the party nor chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party. Not many, therefore, are comfortable with fact that he is seen, by most members of the party from the north, as ordinary BoT member.
Gradually, the rank of wailing wailers is increasing. It may eventually mean that those who started wailing earlier were gifted like Nostradamus was. In the end, The Economist would be proven absolutely right as clashing interests, as signaled by dissenting voices from the Tinubus, may lead to the demise to APC.